Slack shares sink as revenue growth remains steady despite pandemic

Key Points
  • Slack grew revenue 50% during the quarter, compared with 49% last quarter, on an annualized basis.
  • Use of Slack increased as the coronavirus took hold.
  • Amazon will offer Slack to its employees.

In this article

Slack shares fell as much as 17% in extended trading on Thursday after the company reported first quarter earnings.

Slack reported steady revenue growth during a quarter that brought in more customers, as organizations sought to keep communications going with their newly remote workforces during coronavirus pandemic. Still, the company failed to deliver the sort of blowout that video-calling service Zoom did earlier in the week.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings: Loss of 2 cents per share, adjusted
  • Revenue: $201.7 million

Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected an adjusted loss of 6 cents per share on $188.1 million in revenue. Comparing analysts' estimates with results is not necessarily straightforward given the unpredictable effects of the pandemic during the quarter.

Revenue growth was 50% in the quarter. That's barely a move from growth of 49% in the prior quarter. On Tuesday Zoom reported 169% revenue growth, exceeding what analysts had expected, and more than doubled its earnings guidance. Slack, meanwhile, called for a full-year adjusted loss that would be 2 cents less than what it had previously predicted. 

Slack did not disclose a new daily active user count on Thursday. However, in March CEO Stewart Butterfield posted a series of tweets showing how much Slack usage was picking up. He said that the company's app had 12.5 million simultaneously connected users on March 25, up from 10 million on March 10.

The company said Thursday that it added a record 12,000 paid customers in the quarter. In the two prior quarters it added about 5,000 new customers. Slack's top competitor, Microsoft's Teams service, has also expanded in recent months

"What you saw with Zoom, what you saw with Teams is a great indication that this is not apples-to-apples and that the products are not truly competitive with one another," Butterfield told analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

Paid users spent over 120 minutes per day in Slack at the end of the quarter, up from below 90 minutes one quarter earlier, Butterfield said.

And on the call Butterfield said that Amazon is offering Slack to all employees. Slack will adopt Amazon Web Services' Chime video-calling technology to enhance Slack's calling features. On Thursday Slack said in a filing that it had amended its agreement with AWS. The company will now pay AWS at least $425 million over a five-year period that ends in April 2025, up from a previous commitment of at least $250 million in a five-year period that ended in 2023. The company did not specify how much of the increased spending is related to Chime.

For the fiscal second quarter, Slack is forecasting an adjusted loss of 4 cents to 3 cents per share and $206 million to $209 million in revenue. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had been expecting 6 cents in adjusted loss per share on $199.8 million in revenue for that period.

For the full 2021 fiscal year Slack is calling for a loss of 19 cents to 17 cents cents per share on an adjusted basis and $855 million to $870 million in revenue. The consensus among analysts surveyed by Refinitiv was an adjusted loss of 20 cents per share and $860.3 million in revenue. Previously Slack had called for an adjusted loss of 21 cents to 19 cents on $842 million to $862 million in revenue.

The company withdrew its guidance for calculated billings, or revenue plus the change in deferred revenue, for the full fiscal year. Slack offered credits to customers impacted by the pandemic, and such headwinds to billings totaled about $7 million in the quarter, finance chief Allen Shim said on Thursday's call. The company has a reserve to handle credit issues, which cuts into deferred revenue, Shim said.

Excluding the after-hours move, Slack shares are up about 70% since the beginning of the year.

WATCH: Options traders bet on Slack to work its way higher after earnings

Options traders bet on Slack to work its way higher after earnings
Options traders bet on Slack to work its way higher after earnings